Good Friday Morning, except to the Biden administration, which continues to act as if we’re not in a pandemic. It took ten months for Trump to turn the concept of a vaccine into a thing we put into humans, meeting every criteria for safety and use along the way. We’ve done little sense. Pfizer has been waiting since May, and Moderna since June for the FDA to grant full approval for their vaccines. We’ve got nothing. This is all red-tape, mind you. The data is there, it’s set. These are bureaucrats doing nothing.
I’m convinced now, that had Biden been President during 2020, we’d have never achieved a vaccination at that pace. The hard part is done, we just need them to do the easy part now. We’ve got nothing new on the vaccinations for children, and with both companies suggesting the potential need for boosters for the winter, we’d need the Biden admin to get the FDA/CDC to approve that too.
This is the same administration that apparently forgot about the expiration of the eviction moratorium. Here’s the far-left socialist Jacobin Magazine describing THAT breakdown this week:
Even though the Biden administration has known the country was heading off this cliff since the Supreme Court decision, it waited until three days before Congress was set to go on a seven-week recess to ask it to try to extend the moratorium by passing a law. This is obviously absurd, given the cumbersome reality of passing any legislation, and particularly given the realities of the famously dysfunctional US Congress. Two House Democrats involved in efforts to extend the moratorium told the Washington Post they had held off on pursuing such a bill because they were waiting for guidance for the White House, suggesting Joe Biden’s foot-dragging was especially fatal. …
House majority leader Nancy Pelosi’s public statements have been particularly galling. After a failed unanimous consent vote on Friday to extend the moratorium — which under congressional rules can be defeated by the objection of a single member; a Republican duly obliged — Pelosi issued a litany of lame excuses. “Really, we only learned of this yesterday,” Pelosi said about an issue about which the national press has spent the last month practically carrying on a running countdown. She patted herself on the back for her “relentless campaign” to extend the moratorium (can something be called “relentless” if you relent as soon as you’re due to go on holiday?) and blamed Republicans for blocking it “in an act of pure cruelty.”
In reality, as NBC reported shortly after the measure failed, it wasn’t Republicans, a minority in the Democrat-controlled chamber, who defeated the measure, but unnamed right-wing Democrats…
I’ve seen some bad politics in my time. But this takes the cake. How do you *forget* that? What I’m trying to say is that I’m very thankful Trump got us three working vaccines, because Biden hasn’t improved on Operation Warp Speed even a little bit. We’ve approved no new vaccines (despite options existing), we’ve made no movements on full-approval, they failed to have vaccinations ready for school, and I wouldn’t count on booster shots in time.
In this week’s newsletter, I’m going to dig into the push to get people vaccinated, and ultimately, why we’re doing this wrong. We’ve accepted the wrong way to think about it, and we need to broaden everything. I stayed up late writing because I spent the evening watching an awful NFL pre-season game, and it was wonderful. At some point, while writing this I wanted to invent a random planet name. That’s the kind of week it is. Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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Biles’ withdrawal should force Congress to take hard look at US Gymnastics – The Conservative Institute.
The false delta variant freakout – The Conservative Institute.
We need creative chaos on increasing vaccination rates, not the dour, monochromatic outlook of the left.
I’ve tried to stop fighting on social media, especially Facebook. That’s where people I allegedly know try to argue with whatever point I’m bringing up on a given day. I stopped for a couple of reasons. First, it’s just tiring. Have you ever looked at the notifications on your phone known that half those notifications were someone you had one class in college with (and they sucked at that class) telling you that you’re wrong on a topic they know nothing about? And you know you’re not because you just spent an hour clicking through a spreadsheet on the CDC’s website, whereas they’re posting arguments from a meme or Twitter thread from a self-proclaimed expert. It just gets old.
I’m partially convinced I could make any liberal believe anything if I constructed it as a Twitter thread and then posted screenshots on Facebook. Anyone who says, “They never taught this in school!” followed by a screenshot of some “factoid” from Twitter or Tumblr did none of the reading in school.
But the second reason I stopped arguing on Facebook (note: none of these reasons is mental sanity, I lost that in law school) is that the part of my brain dedicated to reasonableness and intellectual rhetoric gets paid for its opinions now. I’ve made a few dollars off that side of my brain. That means all that’s left for Facebook and social media is my inner troll. And that troll works for free. Have you ever watched someone get blood-vessel-popping angry over an argument that you barely care about? It’s an endless amount of fun, and I don’t recommend it if you like having friends.
So I try not to do that. I did this week. And I could tell, I didn’t care. The point was obvious enough to me, and I didn’t care about convincing anyone. So I’ll try to be good again.
But I can tell I’m getting this way over the pandemic because I’m just over it. And I’m over it on the following level: the answer is here, the answer is vaccines, and if you’re not going to choose that solution, I no longer care. There’s a decent argument that we need to be careful until kids 12 and under get access to the vaccine (something that I’d be shocked to see from this administration — I’ve lost faith the Biden will push the CDC to do anything at all. I’d love them to prove me wrong). But if you’re an adult in this country, you’ve had access to the best vaccines in the world, for free, since April.
Not getting vaccinated at this point is a choice. The virus is getting more viral and lethal. Going unvaccinated against something designed in a lab to kill you, and is evolving to grow better at that, is a bad decision. But it’s still a choice. But I’ve also realized — and arguing on Facebook will do this to you — I’ve learned I’m a minority on this point. There is the lockdown forever, people and the unvaccinated people, and I’m over here fully vaccinated and over it all. And all I’ve done to reach this place is focus directly on what the verified data tells me.
The groups that make up society now.
Nate Silver tweeted a decent breakdown that I found helpful. I think he’s right on the groupings; the percentages are arguable. Here’s how he breaks down society into five groups:
- Group A (25% of the electorate): Vaccinated but not ready for a “return to normal” and thinks society has opened up too fast. Very worried about Delta. In favor of any and all restrictions, including lockdowns and remote learning. Some of this group will transition into Group B if/when cases start falling.
- Group B (30% of the electorate): Vaccinated, somewhat worried about Delta, and in favor of modest restrictions (i.e., indoor masking), especially if they target the unvaccinated. At the same time, I don’t want a return to lockdowns, although some could drift into Group A if cases keep rising or there are scary new variants. This is quickly becoming the consensus position among college-educated elites.
- Group C (15%): Vaccinated but “over” the pandemic and wary of restrictions. Likely a mix of younger voters who don’t vote at high rates and some center-right libertarian types.
- Group D (25%): Unvaccinated and strongly opposed to any restrictions.
- Group E (5%): Unvaccinated but in favor of other restrictions. Indeed, they may think such restrictions are necessary to protect them because they can’t/won’t get vaccinated. Unlike Group D, which is mostly conservative Republicans + some apathetic younger voters, this group probably leans Democratic and working-class.
I am clearly in Group C at the moment, though I’m in favor of incentives, not restrictions based on vaccinations (more on that in a bit). Based on my experience, I’d weigh the groups like this: Group A (35%), Group B (15%), Group C (20%), Group D (20%), and Group E (10%).
Group A is almost every single Democrat I know, with a few exceptions in the B category. Group C is every vaccinated Republican I know and some more data-savvy liberals. Groups B, D, and E make up the remaining unvaccinated categories in my mind. I know Nate says Group B is vaccinated, but I think there are unvaccinated people in that category. And some people are equally afraid of the virus and vaccines and are paralyzed by any action. You could probably split them out of Group E.
All of this is based on risk tolerance. I’ve done a ton of reading on vaccines. My risk tolerance as a vaccinated adult under the age of 35 is very high. But I know my risk tolerance isn’t what the average person has. When I argue with people on the left, it’s apparent I’m dealing with people approaching this from a basis of fear, with a low-risk tolerance, and have internalized that as the only acceptable position. Anything less is “getting people killed.”
Everyone on the left I’m encountering wants to do essentially one thing: mask back up, lockdown, mandate vaccine passports (not vaccines, which I find interesting), and do this until they feel safe — note, not when “herd immunity is reached,” only their personal safety threshold gets achieved. I find the vaccine passports interesting because you wouldn’t do vaccine passports if you were interested in public health. Instead, you’d have mandatory vaccinations; you’d line everyone up and pop every arm in the country. Boom. Problem solved. No need for “passports.”
I’ll add this: mandatory vaccinations in that form are constitutional and legal. I don’t know of any significant legal hurdles to compulsory vaccinations, especially on the state level. I’m less sure about vaccination passports.
The left essentially doesn’t want to do that; they want to use passports. You can’t do anything in civil society unless you’re vaccinated. There’s a choice, but those who go against get “punished.” It’s very religious in this aspect. Original sin deserves flogging. It’s the essence of shame culture, scarlet letters for the bad ones.
You’ll note: there’s not a lick of science getting discussed here. This isn’t a “trust in science!!!” thing; it’s a “trust in my side,” thing. It’s no wonder the left can’t convince anyone to get vaccinated when everyone unvaccinated is pre-emptively declared unclean and evil.
So far, I’ve ignored the unvaccinated groups, especially those on the right who are convinced the vaccinations are evil. I was looking at some people on a certain former state Senator’s page argue that the vaccine itself was a bioweapon. These people are, to put it mildly, morons. I know plenty of these people, and as a southerner, I can only say bless their hearts because that’s all they have to bless; I can’t bless a nonexistent brain.
And as a Group C person, I don’t care about that last category at all. I’ve moved on. If you’re in that category, I’m entirely at the “whatever” stage. If you want to court COVID-19, a virus that was likely created in a Chinese laboratory in the process of creating super-viruses, and per usual with the Communist Chinese Party, everything fell apart because they’ve got the safety protocols of a county fair ride run by a half-high teenager thinking about a barrel of Doritos, more power to you.
We need to shift how we think about increasing vaccination rates.
But where I differ from Nate Silver’s groups is that I do want more people vaccinated. I just don’t want scarlet letters, shame, or anything like that. I don’t see it as the way to do things. You have to meet people where they are. Let me share a story that I think illustrates how to think like this. This anecdote is brought to you by one of my favorites to follow on Twitter, @TheAgeofShoddy. He writes:
A story on the difference between moral and moralistic governance.
Back in the 1970’s, Israel was adopting a new standard infantry rifle, the Galil. It was an excellent design that performed well in testing, and they were pretty excited about it as it went out to field trials.
After good initial results problems started to crop up that never appeared in initial range testing; in particular, the rifles had trouble feeding from their magazines. The design was fine and worked in the lab, so to speak, so this was very strange and had to be investigated.
Eventually, the problem was found: it turned out soldiers who had been carrying the things on patrol in the desert sun had been using the feed lips of the magazines as bottle openers, and over time this warped them to the point of unreliability. This is why you do field trials.
At this point the Israeli army could have done the obvious thing: yell at the soldiers to stop breaking their expensive new rifles, re-train them in care and handling, and make it clear that any future damaged feed lip problems would be subject to discipline. That’s moralizing.
What they actually did was redesign part of the hand guard of the rifle to serve as a bottle opener. No yelling and screaming, no coercion, just “how can we achieve the desired goal in the simplest and cheapest way that causes the least friction?” That’s moral- and practical.
Moralizing governance ultimately is more about doing things in a specific way rather than about achieving a specific end. It’s about forcing people to conform to a single vision and method for its own sake. It’s ultimately a luxury. Worth asking if it can be afforded now.
I want bottle opener solutions to vaccine hesitancy. Most of my friends on the left want everyone to get vaccinated for the same reason. Everyone has to agree on everything, be in the same boat, and sing songs along the way. They want to be the staff sergeant getting everyone in order.
I don’t care why you choose to get vaccinated. I couldn’t care less. If you’re concerned about COVID-19, get vaccinated. If you believe the vaccine protects you from the interstellar beings from Morknock 9 reading your mind, by all means, get vaccinated. I’ll pay for your Uber ride because you probably shouldn’t be driving.
To this end, one of my great annoyances is that too many conservative politicians have accepted the leftist notion of why people get vaccinated. They assume that the only reason to get vaccinated is to be a good citizen and follow the rules, sharing that with others. A few haven’t, but several have, including my governor here in Tennessee. He called his vaccination decision a personal decision to avoid questions. This is wrong because the reason shouldn’t matter; we should accept any reason at all, including incentivization.
For instance, Gov. Lee announced the “Tennessee on Me” program, which would pay for the plane tickets of people looking to vacation here. That was a missed opportunity. We should have taken that program and offered to help pay for the vacation tickets of Tennesseasn to go anywhere in Tennessee to enjoy the tickets and base it on vaccination.
I think we should offer lottery tickets, cash incentives, signing bonuses, paid vacation, free food, literally any incentive out there. I haven’t seen an incentive program that I oppose. Instead, Gov. Lee backed off, offered nothing, and now the hospitals are filling up. He did so well, guiding the state through so many of the lockdown era stuff from 2020. But he’s faltered here at the finish line, accepting the leftist reasoning for vaccination, when instead he could make it a fun thing and strip them of all their righteous indignation.
Free Predators, Titans, or Vols tickets for the vaccinated? Done. Offer literally everything. Instead, we’re left with the smug condensation of the left as the only motivation, which isn’t even working in blue states. White progressives who are highly vaccinated are looking at minority communities where only 20-40% may be vaccinated and saying: “We should deny you the ability to get goods, services, or jobs based on vaccination.” They’re fully willing to segregate society based on vaccination and hammer everyone. It’s a myopic mindset that cares less about ending the pandemic and more about getting everyone to believe the same thing.
There’s no reason to accept that mindset. We should reject that moralizing and look for bottle opener solutions. But doing that requires humility, compassion, and meeting each person where they are. Those are things in short supply in our political environment, which is a shame. Because there’s a much better path to take here, where we celebrate our country, our states, and our ability to defeat a pandemic unleashed from China. We should have ticker-tape parades like we ended WWII or landed on the Moon, but instead, we’re listening to and accepting our vision from the humor-less and vision-less left.
There’s no better example of this than Barack Obama’s birthday bash, which was going to have more than 500 people in attendance (and you know they’re all vaccinated). But now he’s canceling it. That’s stupid. We should be having a country-wide party, coast-to-coast. That option exists if we look for those bottle-opener solutions.
The other fun thing about this scattered approach: it shatters vaccination into a billion individual pieces with no way to focus on one thread. It’s creative chaos where individualism on this topic can thrive. It’s hard to create a polarized environment when there are a million reasons for making decisions and not the two we’ve got right now.
Links of the week
‘Borderline illegal’: Courtesy tows remain Philly’s persistent parking nightmare: Drivers who get sucked into the bureaucratic vortex describe it as city-sanctioned auto theft, sometimes followed by punishing fines from the Philadelphia Parking Authority. – The Philadelphia Inquirer
Could Newsom Actually Be Recalled? Maybe… – Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics
Did Georgia Mail Out More Ballots Than It Has Registered Voters? No. – Khaya Himmelman, The Dispatch
Did a Man Win Gold in the Olympic Women’s Weightlifting Competition? No. – Alec Dent, The Dispatch
Did HBO ‘Kill’ or ‘Hide’ a Documentary About Election Hacking? No. – Alec Dent, The Dispatch
Hungary: An Overweighted Symbol – Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Thanks for reading!